Introduction: Maple Spiced Panna Cotta With Sweet Potato Two Ways

Easy dessert of a spiced panna cotta on top of a lemony sweet potato puree topped with crispy sweet potato strings.  Perfect for fall.  I hope you'll make and enjoy it as much as I do.


(Panna Cotta)
2 cups + 3 tablespoons of half and half
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
6-8 all spice berries
1 tablespoon of real maple syrup
2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 package of plain gelatin

(Sweet potato puree)
4 ounces sweet potato, chopped up in chucks
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of butter
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of lemon juice

(sweet potato strings)
half of a sweet potato cut using a turning slicer, mandolin or a very good knife and lots of patience.
Fine sea salt.

Step 1: Making the Panna Cotta

In a medium sized pot on low, slowly heat up 2 cups of half and half with the brown sugar, maple syrup and spices.  You want to infuse the half and half with the spices and it'll take 15 to 20 minutes, so don't make it too hot or the half and half will scorch

While the spices and steeping, bloom the gelatin in 3 tablespoons of half and half and let sit until the half and half is ready. 

When the spices have steeped, strain the mixture and pour it into the bloomed gelatin.  Mix well.

Pour the mixture evenly into four ramekins greased lightly with vegetable oil, then put into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours so they can set properly.

Step 2: Making the Sweet Potato Puree

Take 4 ounces of skinned sweet potato cut into smallish chunks.  Add them to some boiling water and cook until soft. 

Once cooked, drain and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Add the chucks to a food processor and blend completely with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of butter, a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Once completely smooth transfer to a bowl, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.  Puree will be pretty loose when it's still warm, but it will tighten up as it cools.

I wouldn't recommend using a potato masher or whisk to make this.  You're not making mashed potatoes, and you want this super smooth, so a food processor is best.

Step 3: Making and Frying the Sweet Potato Strings

With a turning slicer, slice about 1/2 of a skinned sweet potato into shoelace sized strings.  If you don't have a turning slicer, you can use a mandolin, or, being very careful, use a knife.  Really though a turning slicer is the best device for such a dish.

When you've got your strings cut, take a handful or so of them and carefully drop them into a large pot with 350 degree vegetable oil and fry for no more than 90 seconds, or until crispy.  Remove the strings from the oil and let drain on a paper towel, and immediately sprinkle on some fine salt on the hot strings. 

Be sure to leave enough room in the pot for the oil to expand once you drop the strings.  They're so thin, the oil will expand at least double its size, and a grease fire will ruin a perfectly good evening of yummy dessert eating.

Step 4: Essembling the Dessert.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the chilled puree on a small plate and arrange however you see fit (I use the sloppy method myself).

Take a panna cotta filled ramekin out of the fridge, use a small sharp knife to cut around the perimeter and carefully drop the panna cotta in the center of the puree.  You may need to shake it a little or a lot before it plops out.

Add the crispy sweet potato strings on top and you're good to go!

With the lightly salted cripsy strings, the slightly sweet, creamy and spicy panna cotta and the lemony smooth puree, you have yourself and wonderfully balanced dessert.  I'm super proud of it, and I hope you enjoy it!